Jim Zarroli | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Jim Zarroli

Updated at 2:25 p.m. ET

One of the country's largest pork-producing plants closed indefinitely after nearly 300 of its employees tested positive for COVID-19. And the company's CEO warned that the coronavirus pandemic is pushing the nation's meat supply "perilously close" to the edge.

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Updated at 10 a.m. ET

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits shot up again last week, as 6.6 million more people filed initial claims, the Labor Department said Thursday. About 16.8 million have filed in the past three weeks, and analysts expect the numbers to keep rising.

In the prior week, ending March 28, a revised 6.9 million people filed first-time claims.

The United States faces "a bad recession," combined with the kind of financial stress not seen since the global financial crisis of 2008, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon warns.

"The world is confronting one of the greatest health threats of a generation, one that profoundly impacts the global economy and all of its citizens," he wrote in his widely read annual letter to shareholders.

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Over the years, the federal government has spent trillions of dollars more than it brings in, racking up big deficits even in good times, when it ought to be paring debt down.

Now, as it struggles to repair the damage from the coronavirus epidemic, it's getting ready to spend trillions more, pushing up this year's deficit above $3 trillion.

"It's mind-boggling. I never contemplated this," says Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum, who headed the Congressional Budget Office under President George W. Bush.

Updated at 10:51 a.m. ET

A record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week as the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the country. The Labor Department's report for the week ended March 21 was one of the first official indicators of how many people have suddenly been forced out of work nationally.

In the prior report, for the week ended March 14, initial claims totaled 282,000.

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